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Thread: Need help deciding on first machines to buy!?

  1. #1

    Need help deciding on first machines to buy!?

    I'm a long time lurker first time poster here that's been stuck in decision purgatory for the last 6 months on what stationary machines to buy. I finally own a home with a dedicated workshop (20x20 double garage w/ an extra 6x6 walkway to the house door) after years of renting. I have a solid collection of hand tools that i've built up over the years since getting into this hobby but as far as "actual" power tools go I've only amassed a Bosch sliding miter saw W/ a Festool mini vac and Tormek T-8. I'm really interested/looking for J/P combo's, sliders (5'5 min), dust collection, bandsaw. Budget is maxed at $13k.

    So far I've talked to Sam Blasco for a few minutes about a 5-1 combo but the 300 classic is just outside my range and I'm not sure if the lab 300p is worth 10k list on the sheet he gave me. I've also got a quote form Martin for a Robland HX310 Pro for around 7-8k depending on the options, and Felder has unfortunately been ghosting me the last few months. So right now I'm really considering either the Robland or getting a 16" J/P (fs41c) and a Table Saw, Bandsaw, and Dust collector from Harvey (I love bridge city tools and Harvey/BCT is having a huge thanksgiving sale this week). I feel like I could get all this for around 10k and then sell and upgrade the table saw at a later date without loosing much investment, since I dont really know anything or even find anything about the newer Robland or Harvey it makes me hesitant. I'm also not against used equipment but I would like to make a purchase in the next month since lead times at all companies seems to be a few months.

    Anyway's, If you had a similar garage size and budget what would you do? Would love to get some input since I really don't have a whole lot of experience outside the hand tool department.
    Last edited by Jeremy Sims; 11-24-2020 at 1:31 AM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
    Location
    Waterford, PA
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    662
    I'll give you the same advise I've given others. Figure out what you want to build and then choose equipment that best allows you to perform that type of work. I've been doing woodworking for at least 20 years and am just now getting a J/P Combo. I've done without a jointer all this time, but had a 15" planer. Was it convenient, no. Was it doable, yes. Rather than just buying everything you think you need, pick what you feel is most important and get that in your shop and start using it.

    My shop is in a 24' x 24' building with the following: Table Saw with 60" fence, 12" Band saw, Floor Standing Drill press and soon to arrive J/P (These are more or less stationary). On mobility units 16/32 Belt sander, Spindle/Belt Sander and Compound Sliding Miter Saw. Of course I also have a bench and cabinets for storage and the DC.

    Give thought to how the equipment will fit in your space and which, if any will be mobile. Thick about material storage. I'm having trouble imagining that you can place all the equipment in your space without some items being mobile. If you're proficient with Sketchup or another CAD system, layout your shop and play with the equipment layout. Remember to allow for clearances around the equipment and think about auxiliary things like benches, outfeed tables etc.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Location
    Wayland, MA
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    For a very solid basic shop able to take on most any project I'd have the following (and actually have had it for a long time) :

    used Delta Unisaw or PM 66 with 50" fence with a couple good new blades, $1200
    used 8" jointer (Delta or PM), $600
    used Delta/PM 13-15" planer, upgrade to Byrd head, $2000
    used Floor standing drill press, upgrade to Albrecht keyless chuck, $600
    used Delta 14" band saw with riser block, $600
    used 3+HP dust collector and piping, upgrade to canister filters. $2000

    That gets you to about $7000. I would add a very good workbench with vises that you can either buy or build (add $500-2000). I've added a Performax 19-38 sander, which I now use constantly, I also have a 3hp shaper with feeder that I don't use often, but got cheap with a lot of tooling and a disk/belt combo sander that is especially useful for some of the kind of work that I do, but certainly not essential. I have a floor standing hollow chisel mortiser that I use on every project, you will see in another current thread that many folks here think they are useless. Similarly I spent a fair amount of space on a miter saw station that I use constantly, every day. Others here tell me that is is impossible to make accurate cuts with it, and that it is suitable only for the roughest carpentry.

    A couple years ago I replaced my jointer and planer with a FS41 J/P, and the added capacity is wonderful. I would love to have a bigger bandsaw at this point and am watching the ads for a deal. I don't have room in my shop for a slider, though I'd love to have one. I suspect if you do a tool and material handling layout of your space you won't have enough room either.

    In any event your tool choice needs to be dictated by the kind of work that you do. I dedicate a lot of space and resource to a very nice lathe, that obviously is a more specialized direction.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Western Nebraska
    Posts
    3,975
    Having started in a small shop and having many stops on the path to the current not small shop, I'd recommend what Lisa said. Buy tools that you need for projects you like to do. No need to invest in machines to process sheet goods if you aren't going to do that for example. Some of my best times were is a bare bones shop, just a tablesaw, jointer a good bench, and a few hand tools. I really enjoyed figuring out how to make do with what I had even though it wasn't the perfect tool for the job.

    That being said, if you want help blowing 13K, I bet we can help! I'd recommend the used market, and based on what you've said, look for a couple solid used euro machines. A small slider is a good idea. Careful with full combo machines, you'll find that in a small shop you have to access all sides and they are a space hog. I have one, and I'd recommend separating the jointer/planer from the saw/shaper.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    SE PA - Central Bucks County
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    55,443
    I'm a believer in the combos for capacities and so forth and have been for a long time. But I also appreciate that my J/P is separate from my slider because that fits my personal workflow very nicely. Maybe talk to Sam about that kind of setup for your budget...
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Peoria, IL
    Posts
    2,091
    I've found there is a long term issue with Minimax combination machines. The cost of electrical switches. Rather obscure I would agree, but when the rotary switch failed, I was quoted a price of $450. The original company that made the switch was bought out, and old stock is very scarce. I took the switch apart and it is just loaded with tiny little plastic parts that had become very brittle and a couple pieces were broken. I did a ton of research and found something pretty close on eBay. My switch is made of a stack of modules interconnected with a plastic stem, so my friend with a ton of machinery experience and I spent a day measuring current and reverse engineering the existing switch and wiring, and then he spent an afternoon reverse engineering the eBay switch, and we got it going for less than $40. My machine is 22 years old, and I guess $450 over 22 years isn't a game changer, but paying that kind of money for a switch is hard to take!
    Last edited by Richard Coers; 11-24-2020 at 10:59 AM.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2016
    Location
    Lebanon, TN
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    1,065
    If that was my budget and I was starting again, my first four purchases in priority order would be

    Jointer/Planer
    Bandsaw
    Dust Collector
    Tablesaw.

    I say this mostly because buying a good capacity jointer and planer brings you to the cost of a decent J/P combo and that'll dispose of $5-6K immediately.

    I have a 14" bandsaw, but would go to an 18" if doing it again, so that would be around $2k-$3k.

    About another $2-3K for a Oneida or Clearview.

    That leaves the rest, or most of it for the table saw. I've been very satisfied with my Sawstop, although have spent an additional $1500 upgrading the fence and motor.

    The jump from this table saw, to a slider, I just haven't been able to justify for my hobby level stuff, plus the space required is also an issue.

    I bought a fairly cheap DC and it has worked well even when running my table saw and A3-31 at the same time. So I've struggled with justifying getting something more capable.

    The other tools, I use a lot, that are quite expensive are mostly Festool products. And for each one of these, that hurt when I bought it, I would still buy again. My birthday is close to Christmas, so I often justify that kind of purchase by saying the tool covers both events as regards a gift from my wife and grown kids.

  8. #8
    While i'd personally sometimes love a slider, the more I do this, the less use I have for a table saw. I still will always keep mine, but a small one on wheels is preferable. You seem to be proficient with hand tools, so some cross cuts and rips and joints you may (like me) find that in the long run they are more enjoyable and quicker by hand - SOMETIMES So, a combo machine that centers around a table saw might be suboptimal.

    Now, a BANDSAW and JP COMBO, for me, have become invaluable. I rip everything on the b-saw and joint it either by hand or on the jointer. Less dust, less danger of kickback. Again, as long as you're not production, then this is a doable thing. And you can always roll out a smaller tablesaw or track saw if necessary.

    So, between your options, I'd vote for the Harvey separates.

    Spend for wheels on everything. It seems expensive at first, but it's the best investment.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Prashun Patel View Post
    ...a BANDSAW and JP COMBO, for me, have become invaluable...
    This ^^^ I've had the OP's exact conversation with about eleventy-billion customers over the years. For the weekend warrior looking to make the leap, in order of importance:

    1.) Biggest bandsaw you can afford
    2.) Jointer/planer
    3.) Track saw or budget table saw
    4.) Possibly an edge sander

    To the OP, you should be able to get the first two in Euro design within your budget. I would NOT buy any jointer or planer that doesn't have a Tersa or a spiral cutterhead. You will 100% regret spending upwards of $10K for a combo machine and having to send knives out to be sharpened. Also, not sure who's your Felder rep is but if you truly are getting ghosted, I can can give you a direct desk line to anyone you need. Best of luck in your research.

    Erik
    Felder USA Territory Representative: Central & South Texas

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Location
    Wayland, MA
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    Prashun-- How big a band saw do you have? Do you outfit it with infeed and outfeed tables? An auxiliary fence? I'm thinking of the small table and short fence on my bandsaw and not imagining how you'd get a good clean, straight cut ripping anything over a couple feet long. I know that when I'm resawing longer boards it's a major construction project to set up all the supports and featherboards I need to try to keep the board where I want it.

  11. #11
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    Sep 2013
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    Quote Originally Posted by Erik Loza View Post
    This ^^^ I've had the OP's exact conversation with about eleventy-billion customers over the years. For the weekend warrior looking to make the leap, in order of importance:
    4.) Possibly an edge sander
    OK, that's an eye opener. I've always thought of that as an extremely specialized tool used by kitchen cabinet shops and such. Can you explain its use in a general hobbyist level woodworking shop? Does it replace something else or provide a new capability? I've found a thickness sander to be incredibly useful in my work in just the last couple years-- much moreso than I thought it would be when I bought it. So I'm happy to learn about some new tool I absolutely have to have! Early on I worked in a shop that had one (at Palo Alto High School), but I never used it nor saw anyone else do so.

    Just so I'm not confused, it's a long (10 ft) belt sander on edge that oscillates a giant sanding belt up and down relative to a table for making a flat face 90 deg to the table, like a jointer on its side but with sandpaper in place of blades?

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Mt Pleasant SC
    Posts
    551
    With that nice budget you should get a tricked out router table.
    You can always build one but having one early on really helps.

  13. #13
    what you need will depend on what you do. If you want to do everything you will need lots. Don'tt listen to Erik about not getting straight knives. That insults all the old italians and germans and brits real cabinetmakers ive been lucky enough to know over the years some spent 60 years or more on those machines. Good salesman statement though.
    Last edited by Warren Lake; 11-25-2020 at 12:43 AM.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    South Coastal Massachusetts
    Posts
    6,489
    If most of your construction will be sheet goods, a vertical panel saw will save space in a garage.

    I wouldn't move on anything until your workbench settles into its final location.

    There's nothing worse than a workshop that requires you step outside to change your mind (or turn around, or manipulate a board longer than three feet...) IYKWIS

    I just built a slider for my cheapo JET bandsaw.
    It was an eye opener for speed and getting things done. A slider makes setup and square cuts a breeze.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    Vermont
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    278
    I've been a hobby woodworker for 40 of my 50 years, and I started out with a 1939 Craftsman 10" table saw, a Walker-Turner drill press, a Delta 4" jointer, a Delta 12" lunchbox planer, and a 10" Duro bandsaw. All but the planer inherited. I've gone through many changes over the years, buying some new but mostly used tools, and I know I could easily replace every power tool in my shop for $13k. Based on how much I use them, my four most important machines in the shop are my track saw, my jointer, my planer and my drill press. The tablesaw, bandsaw and everything else are occasional-use machines. If I were in your shoes, or doing it all over, I'd be looking at a Sawstop with a sliding table, a large (17") Euro-design bandsaw, a J/P combo and a Supermax drum sander. The biggest frustration for me is having something that won't fit through the planer, and I have a 15" Jet planer currently.
    Jon Endres
    Killing Trees Since 1983

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